- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2006

The modeling industry is supposed to be all about who’s young, who’s hot and who’s next. Yet Linda Evangelista finds herself on the cover of the August issue of Vogue at age 41 and pregnant. It’s her 10th cover for the magazine, and she’s the first model to be featured on the front in more than a year.

Her pals from the supermodel heyday a decade ago are faring equally well: Naomi Campbell, despite her run-ins with the law, is still queen of the catwalk at 36. Kate Moss, after a stint in drug rehab, is starring in half a dozen designer ad campaigns this season. That includes the fall Versace campaign, which also features Christy Turlington, Angela Lindvall and Carolyn Murphy, not really a new face in the bunch. These genetically blessed women aren’t ready to make way for the newbies yet.

Supermodels are simply super models. That’s the key to their staying power, they say.

Miss Evangelista says she never saw modeling as a means to another career.

“I decided when I was 12 that it’s what I wanted to do, and I count my blessings that I got to realize my dreams,” she says. “Being a rock star was out of the question. I can’t sing. I’m so glad this worked out for me, I do think I know how to be a good model. And I didn’t have a Plan B in place.”

It helps, too, that she’s a fashion junkie and keeps up on the styles and trends, whether she’s working or not.

“I love that it changes every six months. I really love the creative process of making beautiful images. I so enjoy everything about it,” she says.

Miss Evangelista’s affection for the industry mirrors that of many of her peers.

Some models who ruled during the late ‘80s and ‘90s have gone on to other things — Miss Turlington, who launched her own activewear company, Nuala, and led a crusade against smoking, comes to mind — but they always seem to come back to the camera. Miss Turlington posed in her first Versace campaign in 1987 and was called back for the same duty this year.

“I started my career working with the Versaces, and it had been years since I had seen Donatella. It was great to spend a day catching up with old friends and familiar faces. Shooting the campaign was definitely much more fun than work,” Miss Turlington, 37, says.

For designers, there is an incentive to use seasoned models, says Sally Singer, fashion news director at Vogue, where the annual “age issue” features the supermodels. These women care about making a beautiful picture and will do whatever it takes to do it, she says.

The catwalkers who emerged in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s didn’t have a certain “look,” Miss Singer says. In fact, they are among the most diverse-looking women to succeed in modeling. What keeps them at the top, she says, is their talent.

“They trained with the best photographers, and they saw the business of modeling as valid as acting or any other career. They approach it intelligently. They think a lot about fashion.”

Miss Singer adds: “Great models are born but also made — by themselves.”

Miss Evangelista says she’s not worried about her post-pregnancy figure. “I’m not freaked out at all, I embrace it. I believe I’m doing everything to go through this as smoothly as possible. I’m either doing yoga or exercising every day.”

Miss Singer thinks someone with a full life, public recognition and a few (or more) years of experience is an even more effective model because the women buying clothes, beauty products and magazines can relate to her.

“Readers and customers respond to images of older women — women who’ve had lives, women who they know something about. They’re more interested in a woman who’s had children and still looks great. It’s more inspiring than seeing a 14-year-old from a former Eastern Bloc country.”

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